Psalm 66:18 “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
Daniel 9:20a “I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people.”
1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.”
The way to healing and a restored relationship with God is through the confession of our sins. Without confession we live in the pride of our denial, believing ourselves justified in the wrong we have done. God does not listen to the prideful, and we cannot have forgiveness of our sins until we have confessed them. And yet, in my own life, this important discipline of the Christian faith was rarely and poorly practiced.
Early in my own life I learned that confession meant going to a priest and telling him all the ‘bad’ things I had done. When I began attending a Pentecostal church several years ago I learned that I could confess my sins to any believer, not only one in a position of authority in the church. However, in neither case did my confessions lead to a feeling of forgiveness or evidence of repentance. I believe that is because both traditional Catholic and Protestant forms of confession focus on the outward signs or acts of sin and do not require us to rigorously investigate the state of our inner heart, the root cause of our sin. A confession of the outward acts of sin neglects to confront the state of our hearts, and it is from our heart that our actions spring forth, whether good or evil.
Therefore I would like to share with you a model of true confession as modeled in Step 4 of the 12 Steps, and I invite you to actively participate in the following example.
1. Think of a time you wronged someone else; who is that person? Name them out loud.
In my case, I harmed my wife.
2. Think about how you harmed that person.
I harmed my wife by using pornography for years during our marriage.
3. Next, think about which part of your sense of self caused the harm:
- Social Instincts (Self-Esteem & Personal Relationships)
- Security Instincts (Material & Emotional)
- Sex Instincts (Acceptable & Hidden Sex Relations)
- Ambitions (Social, Security, Sexual)
In my case, my use of pornography was caused by low self-esteem, the fact that I was unwilling to open up in my personal relationships because of my fear of emotional vulnerability, and the hidden nature of my pornography use.
4. Finally, focus on the exact nature of your wrongs, faults, mistakes, defects, and shortcomings (Selfish, Dishonest, Self-Seeking & Frightened, Inconsiderate)
Ultimately I used pornography because I was selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and inconsiderate.
Yes, it is difficult to make this kind of confession; that’s why many people stop at Step 1 or 2. But I hope you agree that simply confessing we’ve hurt someone is not enough. We must get to the root of our sin and disclose the exact nature of our wrongs if we want to experience the transformational power of true forgiveness and repentance.